Topical Compilations and Commentary: Why We Believe Lies
Excerpts from various sources interspersed with commentary by Dan Kral
The question has been posed… Why do we believe lies rather than the truth? I have sought for an answer to that question because the lies we believe keep us from the TRUTH that will set us free. Most of the lies we believe we think of as true. When you become a Christian, you become a new creation in Christ – the old has gone and the new has come (2nd Corinthians 5:17). But even though the “old has gone” we live a life that includes, in many ways, believing that the old is not gone and that we are still the same person that we always were. Given that this is the case, we must ask the question, why don’t we believe that we are new creations in Christ? What I mean by that is not an intellectual ascent to the concept; most Christians would nod their heads affirmative if asked if they knew and believed 2nd Corinthians 5:17 – it is a very familiar verse. The difference is between knowing and KNOWING. Lower case “knowing” is what we have in our head. It is what Watchman Nee calls “information”. Upper case “KNOWING” is what we KNOW in our hearts – it is the TRUTH that is KNOWN in our hearts that sets us free (John 8:32). Thus, for most of us a verse like 2nd Corinthians 5:17 is just information that we have and not life-changing KNOWLEDGE that will set us free.
The main reason we believe lies about ourselves (and a lot of other things) is because we have been listening to the voice of Satan and his minions for our entire life and cannot distinguish between our own thoughts and the thoughts of Satan. The voice has become so familiar that we think it is our own thoughts and not the thoughts of Satan impersonating us.
Deceit is defined as “the habit or practice of intentionally concealing or perverting the truth for the purposes of misleading.” (The American College Dictionary) In 2nd Corinthians 11:14 Paul is talking about false Apostles and other workers and makes reference to Satan… “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” Satan is a deceiver. Jesus describes Satan in John 8:44 “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Because it is Satan’s nature to lie, and lies are his native language, he will deceive you into believing that his thoughts in your mind are your thoughts in your mind. He doesn’t wait to start his ploy until we are mature Christians. He starts his deceitful tactics when we are still children and vulnerable to listen (not that we are not vulnerable as adults, but as children we are more easily deceived).
One of the things I have wondered about is how 10 people can give us a compliment as a child and one person says something negative, and we believe the negative comment. We sometimes hide the negative comments deep in our inner being, but they are a part of who we think we are (our self-definition) and they play a part in our lives. Those thoughts, that we have believed, form a part of the definition that gives us permission to do or not to do things. They form the negative side of us that holds us back from being all that God created us to be. Things like “you never finish anything,” “you’ll never amount to anything,” “you’re stupid,” “you’re always whining about something,” or “you’ll never make anything of yourself” are the kinds of comments that get embedded deep into who we are and that we believe and thus limit the God-potential of who we are in Jesus.
Now, why is it that we believe these kinds of lies? We believe them because they are usually said to us by an authority figure in our lives (e.g. a parent, a teacher, a minister, an older sibling) and then Satan confirms them to us in the first person. Remember, Satan’s native tongue is lies. Thus, he does not come to us telling us who he is, but rather deceiving us into thinking he is someone other than who he really is. In this case, he takes on the role of us. That is, he uses first person pronouns to confirm what we have heard. We hear in our mind thoughts that confirm what we have heard. Going through our list of examples changing third person pronouns to first person pronouns we now have the thoughts “I never finish anything,” I’ll never amount to anything,” “I’m stupid,” “I’m always whining about something,” or “I’ll never make anything of myself” become the confirming thoughts that we have that are not our thoughts.
Why is it that we have trouble understanding these thoughts and discerning them as coming from Satan? There are a couple of reasons… The first reason is that we have been blinded to this tactic of Satan. We know him to be the accuser – where he uses third person pronouns to accuse us. But we have listened to “our own thoughts” for so long we have no idea that some of them come from a different source. Thus, we need to raise our level of awareness that this is a tactic of the enemy. The second reason is that our own thoughts have become familiar to us. We have grown accustomed to listening to our thoughts as our own and we believe they are our thoughts. We have no idea that the greatest battle that we are fighting is inside of us. Satan is very good at using this tactic. I think of the scene in the book The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis (a part of the Chronicles of Narnia) where the Emerald Queen (a representation of Satan) is putting a spell on those in the room who have freed Prince Rilian.
“Now the Witch said nothing at all, but moved gently across the room, always keeping her face and eyes steadily toward the Prince. When she had come to a little ark set in the wall not far from the fireplace, she opened it, and took out first a handful of a green powder. This she threw on the fire. It did not blaze much, but a very sweet and drowsy smell came from it. And all through the conversation which followed, that smell grew stronger, and filled the room, and made it harder to think. Secondly, she took out a musical instrument rather like a mandolin. She began to play it with her fingers – a steady, monotonous thrumming that you didn’t notice after a few minutes. But the less you noticed it, the more it got into your brain and your blood. This also made it hard to think. After she had thrummed for a time (and the sweet smell was now strong) she began speaking in a sweet, quiet voice.
“Narnia?” she said. “Narnia? I have often heard your Lordship utter that name in your ravings. Dear Prince, you are very sick. There is no land called Narnia.”
“Yes there is, though, Ma’am,” said Puddleglum. “You see, I happen to live there all my life.”
“Indeed,” said the Witch. “Tell me, I pray you, where that country is?”
“Up there,” said Puddleglum, stoutly, pointing overhead. “I – I don’t know exactly where.”
“How?” said the Queen, with a kind, soft, musical laugh. “Is there a country up among the stones and mortar on the roof?”
“No,” said Puddleglum, struggling a little to get his breath. “It’s in Overworld.”
“And what, or where, pray is this… how do you call it… Overworld?”
The story goes on with the children and Prince Rilian trying to withstand the enchantment, but the Witch just keeps going until the enchantment is nearly complete…
The Witch shook her head. “I see,” she said, “that we should do no better with your lion, as you call it, than we did with your sun. You have seen lamps, and so you imagined a bigger and better lamp and called it the sun. You’ve seen cats, and now you want a bigger and better cat, and it’s to be called a lion. Well, ‘tis a pretty make-believe, though, to say truth, it would suit you all better if you were younger. And look how you can put nothing into your make-believe without copying it from the real world, this world of mine, which is the only world. But even you children are too old for such play. As for you, my lord Prince, that art a man full grown, fie upon you! Are you not ashamed of such toys? Come, all of you. Put away these childish tricks. I have work for you all in the real world. There is no Narnia, no Overworld, no sky, no sun, no Aslan. And now, to bed all. And let us begin a wiser life tomorrow. But, first, to bed; to sleep; deep sleep, soft pillows, sleep without foolish dreams.”
The Prince and the two children were standing there with their heads hung down, their cheeks flushed, their eyes half closed; the strength all gone from them; the enchantment almost complete. But Puddleglum, desperately gathering all his strength, walked over to the fire. Then he did a very brave thing. He knew it wouldn’t hurt him quite as much as it would hurt a human; for his feet (which were bare) were webbed and hard and cold-blooded like a duck’s. But he knew it would hurt him badly enough; and so it did. With his bare foot he stamped on the fire, grinding a large part of it into ashes on the flat hearth. And three things happened at once.
First, the sweet, heavy smell grew very much less. For though the whole fire had not been put out, a good bit of it had, and what remained smelled very largely of burnt Marsh-wiggle, which is not at all an enchanting smell. This instantly made everyone’s brain much clearer. The Prince and the children held up their heads again and opened their eyes.
Secondly, the Witch, in a loud, terrible voice, utterly different from all the sweet tones she had been using up till now, called out, “What are you doing? Dare to touch my fire again, mud-filth, and I’ll turn your blood to fire inside your veins.”
Thirdly, the pain itself made Puddleglum’s head for a moment perfectly clear and knew exactly what he really thought. There is nothing like a good shock of pain for dissolving certain kinds of magic.
This is what Satan does to us – he lulls us into complacency by telling us over and over again using first person pronouns the lies that he would have us to believe as truth. It is his enchantment over us until we come to a place where we believe what he is saying and our perceptions become our reality (i.e. we perceive that we really are who Satan has been telling us we are and that is our reality). We need to understand that this is happening. We need to ask God for awareness of what lies we have believed. We need to prepare ourselves and be ready to pay the price to break the enchantments that Satan has us in. Satan has strummed the instrument and spoken softly to us for years with his enchantments. It starts when we are young and there are enough years that we think that the thoughts are ours and we don’t think about them being placed there by Satan.
We need to put on the armor of God not only to face the world, but to face what is inside of us. We need the belt of truth to counteract the lies that we have been deceived into believing for years. We need the sword of the spirit to fight the lies that we have believed – those that are in us; the lies that have become a part of our self-definition, who we believe we are. We need to counter that with the TRUTH of our God-definition, who God says we are in Jesus. We need to ask God to make us aware of what we have believed that is not true, but we have believed to be true. This is not a one-time event – it is an on-going part of being transformed into the likeness of Jesus. In some ways our self-definition is really the definition that Satan wants us to believe – it is our Satan-definition. That self/Satan definition needs to be transformed by awareness of who we are in Christ and placing that as a standard in our thought life and identifying thoughts that do not line up with that definition. We cannot change anything we are not aware of and thus awareness of our thought life and thought patterns are key to discovery and change.
The battle I am describing here is the paramount battle that we are in the midst of in our lives. The battle between God and Satan being played out in who we define ourselves to be. Remember John 6:28 and 29 where the disciples asked Jesus – “What do we have to do to do the works of God?” Jesus gives them the answer that is so simple, yet profoundly deep. It is the answer that we need to fight and win the battle I have just described. Jesus tells them “The work of God is to believe in him whom the father has sent.” Jesus tells his disciples and us – all you need to do is believe in me and you will be doing the works of God. As God always does, the answer contains no magic formula. The answer is personal for each one of us. There is a foundational part of the answer – believing that God did send Jesus, that Jesus is God’s only begotten son and that Jesus is the source of life. But there is another level – if we believe who Jesus is, then we need to believe what he says about us both through his words and through Scripture. Believing Jesus has to put us on a journey. A journey of discovery, of discovering who Jesus says we are – and then a journey of moving the knowledge in our heads about who we are to KNOWLEDGE in our hearts that will set us free.
The transformation does not take place in an instant. We are new creations in Christ in an instant – the moment we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. But the working out of that new man is a journey, a part of our sanctification – the working out of our salvation with fear and trembling – the taking up of our cross daily and dying to ourselves and living for Jesus.
I am giving references from two books that will give reference and further explanation to the voice of Satan being the deceiver that uses first person pronouns in our minds. The two books are Lifetime Guarantee by Bill Gillham, and Wild at Heart by John Eldredge
Excerpt from Lifetime Guarantee by Bill Gillham © 1993
From Chapter 6 – You Can Keep a Good Man Down
Look at Romans 7:15, the defeated Christian’s verse: “For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.” How many actors are there in that verse? One: “I”. Now jump down to Romans 7:20: “But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me [is doing it]” (emphasis added). How many actors do you count in this verse? Two: “I” and something called “sin”. Somehow, an entity or power called sin is the “one” who wishes me to do “the very thing I hate.” Something that indwells me wants me to rebel against God.
Now I am not teaching “the devil made me do it”. He can’t make me do anything. What I’m saying is an entity called sin somehow suggested that I do it. When I bought into sin’s idea, it became mine, and I did the very thing I do not wish. Clearly, there are two actors identified in verse 20, but only one in verse 15. And clearly Paul says in verse 20 that he did not want to commit this to sin, but that somehow this other actor was able to entice him into doing it.
Many years ago when I recognized the truth of the preceding paragraph (that Satan can act as a counterfeit of the Holy Spirit), I said, “Lord, there are two actors in verse 20 and only one in verse 15, yet I know that the power of sin was in this man in verse 15, too. Sin entered the human race at the fall. How did sin manage to go underground to keep from being identified in verse 15?” And over a period of several weeks of examining and meditating on God’s Word, I believe the Holy Spirit showed me how the Evil One operates.
Names are important in Scripture. You will often get marvelous truth by studying them. Satan is called “deceiver,” “tempter,” and “accuser,” among other things. What’s a deceiver? A deceiver is someone who will make you believe something is true when it’s a lie. Or he will make you believe something is not true when in, in fact, it is. Magicians are deceivers. They make you think they cut a woman in two pieces, when in fact they do not. And what part of you do they seek to deceive? Your mind.
The Word says that Satan “disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). What is “light” in the Word? Truth! He can come to you as “truth” as “revelation”, as “insight into reality.” But how? It’s simple. He gives you a thought in your mind and disguises it to seem as if it is your thought. You say, “How could he do that?” By speaking to you with first-person singular pronouns (I, me, my, myself, etc.)!
When the power of sin speaks to your mind, it does not use the pronoun “you,” but the pronoun “I.” Instead of experiencing the communication, “Why don’t you go ahead and give her a piece of your mind!” it will be served up to your mind as, “Well! I have a good mind to tell her off! By George, I’m going to do it.” And you often wind up “doing the very thing you hate.” You grab the idea and convert it into action. You sin! Yes, you did the evil thing, but the genesis of it, the origin was the power of sin, not your mind.
Excerpts from Wild at Heart by John Eldredge © 2001
Chapter Eight – A Battle to Fight: The Enemy
To put it bluntly, your flesh is a weasel, a poser, and a selfish pig. And your flesh is not you. Did you know that? Your flesh is not the real you. When Paul gives us his famous passage on what it’s like to struggle with sin (Romans 7), he tells a story we are all too familiar with.
Okay, we’ve all been there many times. But what Paul concludes is just astounding: “I am not really the one doing it, the sin within me is doing it” (Rom 7:20 NLT). Did you notice the distinction he makes? Paul says, “Hey, I know I struggle with sin. But I also know that my sin is not me – this is not my true heart.” You are not your sin, sin is no longer the truest thing about a man who has come into union with Jesus. Your heart is good. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you…” (Ezekial 36:26). The Big Lie in the church today is that you are nothing more than a “sinner saved by grace.” You are a lot more than that. You are a new creation in Christ. The New Testament calls you a saint, a holy one, a son of God. In the core of your being you are a good man. Yes, there is a war within us, but it is a civil war. The battle is not between us and God, no, there is a traitor within who wars against our true heart fighting alongside the Spirit of God in us.
The real you is on the side of God against the false self. Knowing this makes all the difference in the world. The man who wants to live valiantly will lose heart quickly if he believes that his heart is nothing but sin. Why fight? The battle feels lost before it even begins. No, your flesh is your false self – the poser, manifest in cowardice and self-preservation – and the only way to deal with it is to crucify our heart. We are never told to kill the true man within us, never told to get rid of those deep desires for battle and adventure and beauty. We are told to shoot the traitor. How? Choose against him every time you see him raise his ugly head. Walk right into those situations you normally run from. Speak right to the issues you normally remain silent over. If you want to grow in true masculine strength, then you must stop sabotaging yours.
The devil no doubt has a place in our theology, but is he a category we even think about in the daily events of our lives? Has it ever crossed your mind that not every thought that crosses your mind comes from you? What I experienced in traffic that day happens all the time in marriages, in ministries, in any relationship. We are being lied to all the time. Yet we never stop to say, “Wait a minute… who else is speaking here? Where are those ideas coming from? Where are those feelings coming from?” If you read the saints from every age before the Modern Era – that pride-filled age of reason, science, and technology we all were thoroughly educated in – you’ll find that they take the devil very seriously indeed. As Paul says, “We are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11). But we, the enlightened, have a much more commonsense approach to things. We look for a psychological or physical or even political explanation for every trouble we meet.
Who was behind that brutal assault on your own strength, those wounds you’ve taken? As William Gurnall said, “It is the image of God reflected in you that so enrages hell; it is this at which the demons hurl their mightiest weapons.”
There is a whole lot more going on behind the scenes of our lives than most of us have been led to believe.